Coffee, Certification Schemes and Standards in the Reshaping of Sustainability Markets, Tracing Global-Local Tensions

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:54 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Derly Yohanna SANCHEZ VARGAS , Organisation Work and Technology, PhD Student, Lancaster, United Kingdom
In the last fifteen years, certification schemes (and the standards they enact) for producing sustainable products have become one of the most important strategies for enhancing sustainability into commodities (such as coffee) market. Similarly, certification schemes are introducing important changes in the governance of agriculture systems. Such transformations have been the focus on a wide set of works that critically highlight how certification schemes are embedded into a neoliberal project as well as the social dimensions of coffee production in the context of a moral economy. Although many of these approaches isolate technical and social dimensions as separated realms relative less attention have been put on how certification schemes are enacting sustainability in terms of trust, a key element in the material shaping of any differentiated market. 

Following Busch (2011) contributions on standards, enacted in the Certifications schemes (Van Der Kamp, 2012), and trust I explore how certification schemes can produce two version of it in two different locations. First, trust as consistency in the International Coffee Organisation (ICO). Here I describe how certification schemes are designed to produce trust in the market related to the transparency and the consistency of coffee production according to international environmental standardised criteria. This trust, then, is limited to the boundaries of a certificate. Second, I describe the experience of a small coffee roaster and retailer with certification schemes in the UK, J. Atkinson & Co. What emerges there is a concept of trust as trustworthiness. Certification schemes are framed in terms of coffee relationships, these involve a more emotional and sensuous experience of the market. I present how some standards can be harmonically integrated in these arrangements and how sometimes such integration cannot be possible. As a result, an alternative version of sustainability is produced.